April 9, 2013

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament XXI: Backwoods Boy


The "man of God from Judah" was sent to Bethel in the northern kingdom to rebuke Jeroboam. Amos is a prophet from the southern kingdom that was sent to the northern kingdom to prophesy and give them the spiritual how-to and what-for, particularly the cities of Samaria and Bethel. Amos is interesting in that he received his calling right in the middle of his daily work as a herdsman and tree farmer. It would be like God coming to you at middle-age right in the middle of your 9 to 5 and telling you He had a calling for you (ironically this is exactly what happened to me at 39 years old).

Amos receives training as a prophet direct from the Lord. You can tell Amos is pretty much immersed in his life and it becomes evident when you read his book. The beauty of his bucolic life and natural surroundings exude and radiate from his prose and writing style. I am a country boy and was raised a country boy so I pick up on his language immediately as I read and it puts me in a rustic mind. His illustrations come from his life in his mountain home in Tekoa in the farmland suburbs south of Jerusalem. Amos like the Messiah would come from humble beginnings and make an indelible mark on history. Right in Amos himself we see a typology of Christ as humble backwoods and backwater prophet. Seemingly insignificant to the world but priceless to God in Heaven.

So to end up in the cities in a multitude of intensely immoral sinners comes as a sharp contrast and a shock.  Amos being a righteous man of God sent to towns of immorality makes the obvious contrast stark and sharply delineated.

Amos 2:9 ~ “Yet I destroyed the Amorites before them, though they were tall as the cedars and strong as the oaks. I destroyed their fruit above and their roots below.

Amos 2:13 ~ “Now then, I will crush you as a cart crushes when loaded with grain.”

Amos 3:4-5 ~ “Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey? Does it growl in its den when it has caught nothing? Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground when no bait is there? Does a trap spring up from the ground if it has not caught anything?

Amos 7:15 ~ “But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” 

Then the stark contrast follows....

Amos 3:6 ~ “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?

Amos 7:17 ~ “Therefore this is what the Lord says: “Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan country. And Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.”

In Amos we see a man that had probably stared up at the stars among his herds and contemplated the One who could put the stars in the sky and know them all by name. Amos was also a sycamore tree farmer so to speak. The fruit this tree produced was a poor man’s fig. The probably couldn’t have been more contrast poured into the difference between Amos and the places he was to go to and prophesy to.

Betraying his very humble origins the words that will issue forth from Amos will be like the pounding of siege engines from his mouth. Amos will quote the prophet Joel.

Amos 1:2 ~ “He said: “The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds dry up, and the top of Carmel withers.”

We see the prophecy is made two years before an earthquake.

Amos 1:1 ~ “The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.

I suppose it is not surprising that Joel said that

Joel 2:10 ~ “Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.

It is possible they refer to the same earthquake, and it must have been severe for both to have mentioned it. Even the prophet Zechariah speaks of it nearly three hundred years later, as an event well remembered, though the whole captivity in Babylon had intervened (Zech. xiv. 5).

Zechariah 14:5 ~ “You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

The Hebrew word הָרַ֔עַשׁ  rah`ash suggests a word that means crash, "two years before the crash." This is interesting because in Amos 8:8 we see a prophecy that those listening might not have even recognized as a foretelling of an earthquake as it would been seen as a metaphor because the land was compared to the motion of water or the Nile River. This was a severely violent earthquake that would left and indelible impression on people that live in an earthquake plagued area. It would’ve been like a 8.0 to 9.0 quake in the Los Angeles region. It was so profound it would’ve mentally scarred those that were already condition or scarred by similar events.

Amos 8:8 ~ ““Because of this will not the land quake and everyone who dwells in it mourn? Indeed, all of it will rise up like the Nile, and it will be tossed about and subside like the Nile of Egypt.

It was such a horrid earthquake that Amos will mention it twice back-to-back.

Amos 9:5 ~ “The Lord God of hosts, the One who touches the land so that it melts, and all those who dwell in it mourn, and all of it rises up like the Nile and subsides like the Nile of Egypt…”

This type of earthquake is massive in that the land undulates or moves in waves like that on water.

All this to say that behind all of this catastrophe is the judgment of God or the “Day of the Lord."

Amos 4:12 ~ ““Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.”

Amos opens the way for his message to Israel by proclaiming the Lord's judgment upon six surrounding nations—Damascus/Syria), Gaza/Philistia), Tyrus/Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, Moab. Like a bullet zeroing in on its target, the judgment eventually centers on Judah. Amos denounces the sins of Israel in more graphic detail than Hosea. Amos focuses in on the oppression of the poor, extortion, lying and cheating which triumphed at nearly all levels of the nations. Compound this with complete hypocrisy in worship and it is a witch’s brew of judgment. This of course is a damning condemnation of America today and all over western culture (not to mention eastern).

We see that God grieves over the people for not attending to His judgments. The last three chapters contain a five-fold vision of judgment which the Lord showed Amos: (1) locusts (2) fire (3) a plumb-line being a gauge of judgment. The fourth vision was of the basket of summer fruit, the last basket. "The end has come upon My people." The prophet saw the guilty nation over ripe for judgment. In the fifth and final judgment we finally see the Lord Himself standing upon the altar. Amos closes with the glorious promise or restoration of the fallen Tabernacle. We see the promise of the Messiah who, in the moment of His greatest humiliation gains His greatest triumph.

Amos 9:11-15 ~ “In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,” Declares the Lord who does this. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved. “Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. “I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,” says the Lord your God.

This passage will of course be used by James in Acts 15:16-18 to refer to the in-gathering of Gentile believers when His purposes for Jew and Gentile alike will be achieved.

Acts 15:16-18 ~ “After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’—things known from long ago.

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